ACCA vs ACA – What’s the Difference? – While choosing between ACCA and ACA many students get confused about what to pick and what not to pursue. But there are things you should think about before deciding on these two marvelous career options.
First of all, before going into detail about these two courses, you need to make sure that you know your career goals are. So, if you don’t know, find it out. Start with your likes and dislikes. Finance is a huge domain and there are many options. Just because your friends are doing one and not doing another cannot be the reason for choosing one course over another.
As these two need a lot of patience, perseverance and hard work, you can’t just choose one in a fluke. Take your time. Read about each of them (we’ve given all the details below). And then decide what suits you best.
People have different opinions. They also have different biases. Instead of asking other people what they think is the best option, read this, do your own research, find out what aligns with your career goals and then go for the one that’s right for you. There’s no right answer for everyone.
In this article, we will discuss about the following –
- ACCA vs ACA Infographics
- What is Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)?
- What is Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA)?
- Key differences between ACCA and ACA
- Why pursue ACCA?
- Why pursue ACA?
ACCA vs ACA Infographics
Reading time : 90 seconds
Lets understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this ACCA vs ACA Infographics.
ACCA vs ACA Summary
|Certification Organised by||•ACCA course is organized by the global body of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. It was founded in 1904.|
•ACA is being recognized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW). ICAEW was established by Royal Charter in 1880.
|•If you would like to qualify as an ACCA, you need to clear four levels – knowledge, skills, essentials and options. There is total 14 papers altogether.
•To complete ACA, you need to complete 3 levels – Certificate Level, Professional Level and Advanced Level.
|Number of levels||If you would like to qualify as an ACCA, you need to clear four levels – knowledge, skills, essentials and options. There is total 14 papers altogether.||If you would like to qualify as an ACCA, you need to clear four levels – knowledge, skills, essentials and options. There is total 14 papers altogether.|
|Mode/Duration of exam||Other than the first 3 papers under Knowledge level, duration of all exams is of 3 hours each. The first 3 papers under Knowledge level is of 2 hours duration each.||Other than the first 3 papers under Knowledge level, duration of all exams is of 3 hours each. The first 3 papers under Knowledge level is of 2 hours duration each.|
|Exam Window||ACCA exams are conducted in the months of March, June and September every year.||ACA: Exams are conducted in 9 January, 27 March, 3 July and 25 September for Professional Level 8 May and 28 August for Advanced Level every year.|
|Subjects||•The subjects for ACCA are as follows –|
- Accountant in Business (F1)
- Management Accounting (F2)
- Financial Accounting (F3)
- Corporate and Business Law (F4)
- Performance Management (F5)
- Taxation (F6)
- Financial Reporting (F7)
- Audit and Assurance (F8)
- Financial Management (F9)
- Governance, Risk and Ethics (P1)
- Corporate Reporting (P2)
- Business Analysis (P3)
Options (Two to be completed)
- Advanced Financial Management (P4)
- Advanced Performance Management (P5)
- Advanced Taxation (P6)
- Advanced Audit and Assurance (P7)
|• Let’s look at the subjects of ACA –
- Business and Finance
- Management Information
- Principles of Taxation
- Business Planning : Taxation
- Business Strategy
- Audit and Assurance
- Financial Accounting and Reporting
- Financial Management
- Tax Compliance
- Corporate Reporting
- Strategic Business Management
- Case Study
|Pass Percentage||•The pass percentages of the last exam in December, 2015 are as follows – 84% (F1), 64% (F2), 68% (F3), 74% (F4), 41% (F5), 53% (F6), 45% (F7), 46% (F8), 45% (F9) and 47% (P1), 47% (P2), 47% (P3), 35% (P4), 29% (P5), 42% (P6), 39% (P7). |
•In 2015, the cumulative pass percentage of ACCA is above 70%.
ACCA December 2016 pass rates:- F1 82%; F2 63%; F3 71%; F4 82%; F5 40%; F6 52%; F7 50%; F8 40%; F9 45%; P1 49%; P2 51%; P3 49%; P4 33%; P5 30%; P6 34%; P7 31%
Please refer to the link for ACCA pass percentage
|Business Strategy at 90.3%, with Financial Accounting and Reporting at 87.4%|
|Fees||The fees for ACCA are reasonable. If you do your registration for each exam early, then it would be around 450 pound.||The fees to 31 December 2017 will be:
Annual student fee: £165 (+VAT where applicable)
Certificate Level exam fee: £70 for each exam
Professional Level exam fee: £90 for each exam
Advanced Level exam fee: £170 for each Corporate Reporting and Strategic Management exam and £260 for Case Study exam
|Job opportunities/Job titles||Once you complete ACCA, multiple opportunities will open up for you. You can join in Accounting firms, Educational & Training companies, FMCG sectors, Financial Services & Consulting companies and even in Healthcare.||People do ACA when they want to aim for Big 4 firms. Once you complete your ACA certification, you will be able to join PwC, KPMG, Deloitte or Ernst & Young.|
|Pro- Tip||ACCA gives you solid foundation in accounting principles. It is particularly useful for audit, tax or practice.||To complete your ACA you also need to have 450 days of relevant experience along with clearing 15 exams. To study ACA, your employer should be approved institute for training ACA.|
What is Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)?
ACCA is one of the most sought after certifications you can choose to pursue. ACCA is one of the fastest growing accountancy professions in the world. Over 436,000 students have chosen to pursue ACCA and they are from 180 countries in the world. The best part of ACCA is its flexibility which allows its students to balance study and work very well. To study ACCA, you can choose not to do any class and can do your own self-study.
If you talk about comprehensiveness, ACCA fits the bill perfectly. It prepares the students for technical and management, both domains. Thus once the students complete their certification, they’re ready to join any reputed company and to handle finance domain of that company with ease.
With ACCA you would be able to get excellent education within a short budget. Moreover, it has huge global presence and once you do it, you would be recognized as a world class accountant. Even the top notch companies prefer ACCA more than any other professionals from finance domain.
What is Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA)?
ACA is also very much recognized and sought after accountancy course for students and professionals. It also has international recognition and many students who dream of joining Big 4 companies usually pursue ACA.
ACA also helps you create a delicate balance between your study and work so that you’re able to create a work-life balance and thrive as a professional. ACA doesn’t have only one entry routes; rather it has several and it can be done even from Europe, USA and Asia.
ACA is also very cost effective. Under a very small budget you would be able to get a globally recognized degree and as a result you would be treated as an expert in the accounting field. Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) has designed ACA in such a way that it has become a perfect blend of practical approach and technical knowhow. That’s the reason many students are getting interested to do this. ACA is also available from Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. But if you want to do ACA, do it from ICAEW as it’s the most recognized and globally accepted.
Key differences between ACCA and ACA
Even if both of these courses are at par excellence, there are significant differences between two. Let’s look at them, one by one.
- Duration of the course: Many students want to complete the course fast. If you want something that is of short duration and will give you a lot of expertise in accounting domain, you should pick ACCA over ACA. As you will be able to complete ACCA within 2 years along with 3 years of signed-off experience. Whereas to complete ACA, you need to invest at least 3 to 4 years of your life.
- Global recognition: Both ACA and ACCA are of international repute. But if you compare between two then ACCA is more recognized globally than ACA. ACCA is recognized in over 180 countries in the world. But in many countries in Asia, ACA is not considered as a globally recognized certification. If you would like to have a global impact and want to voyage around the world, you should choose ACCA as ACA has limited international recognition.
- Regulation: To become ACA, you need to have three and half years of working experience along with passing the exam. Not only that, during three and a half years, you need to work in ACA registered firms and not elsewhere. But ACCA has flexibility. Even if you need to have three years of working experience along with two years of course, you can have your experience in finance domain of any company. This simple regulation creates a massive difference and makes ACCA more accessible to students than ACA.
- Job Relevancy: Both ACA and ACCA offer multiple job opportunities in many different areas. ACA is more suitable for people who would like to pursue their career in Auditing and Accounting. Whereas ACCA is more comprehensive, giving options for people who want to pursue a career in management accounting, financial management and financial services. There’s no better option here. You can choose ACA or ACCA as per your career goals and professional aspiration.
- Flexibility: ACCA gives a lot of room for choosing when, where and how to finance your qualification. For ACA there’s no room for such flexibility. But many students of ACA argue that once they complete their education under ACA, there are many post qualification benefits which help them update their industry knowledge and help them hone their expertise further.
- Exam on the scale of toughness: Even if it seems that both of the certifications are tough, truth is ACA is tougher than ACCA. First of all, ACA is of long duration, usually of 3-4 years whereas ACCA is of only 2 years. The subjects are also tougher in ACA to study and clear. At the end of Advanced Level under ACA certification, one has to go through case study which is tougher than ACCA last level of exams.
- Salary difference: As you can expect there is a huge salary difference between ACA and ACCA certified professionals. The average salary of ACCA certified professionals is 30,700 pound per annum. Whereas the average salary of ACA certified professionals is 78,400 pound per annum. Can you see the difference? If we judge just on the basis of salary and the opportunity cost, ACA is much high value qualification than ACCA.
Why pursue ACCA?
There are several reasons for which you should pursue ACCA. Here are some of them –
- It is more globally recognized and anywhere in the world this qualification is valid. Thus if you need to change country, you can still carry your qualification with you and you will still be employable.
- ACCA is of much shorter duration, just 2 years. If you want to get a globally acclaimed qualification within a short stint of time, ACCA is for you.
- The fee structure of ACCA is also very much reasonable. You don’t need to put yourself into debt to afford this qualification. Thus many students who can work hard decide to join ACCA.
- As ACCA is a more comprehensive course, it offers many job opportunities in different field. You can choose to work in financial services company, FMCG, Education Industry or Accounting firm.
- Students feel that ACCA is much easier than any other courses in Finance domain. First of all, even if you need to have 3 years of experience, you can have the experience in finance domain of any company. So, there’s no strict regulation to follow.
Why pursue ACA?
- Even if it’s one of the toughest exams in the world, you should pursue this course because at the end it pays you so well that you don’t regret working harder than ever. If you compare per annum salary with any other professional compensation, you will find that as an ACA you could get almost double or triple of the salary other professionals are getting.
- ACA offers you a practical approach along with technical knowledge which many professional courses fail to offer. Thus, it is treated as one of most relevant finance courses in the world.
- ACA offers a lot of post qualification support which is not provided by any other institute or board of education. Thus students get to update themselves regularly and remain at the top of their profession all the time.
Other useful accounting certification comparisons
If you look at both ACCA vs ACA, they have advantages and disadvantages. Thus we cannot pinpoint the best option for you. Do your soul search and find out which aligns most with your career goals.